I wanted to run some of my old games (notably Riven) on my shiny new Windows 8.1 machine, but it wouldn't even try to install on a 64-bit operating system. Luckily, Oracle offers VirtualBox to run virtual machines, and Microsoft offers a Windows XP virtual hard drive (.vhd file) through its Windows XP mode for Windows 7. Note that it won't run directly on Windows 8, but you can extract the .vhd file as outlined by lifehacker:

Then use 7-Zip open the EXE file as an archive.

Within that archive, find the sources/xpm file within it, and extract that folder to your hard drive.

Finally, in the extracted xpm file, you'll find a file called VirtualXPVHD. Export it and rename it to VirtualXPVHD.vhd

In VirtualBox, create a new virtual machine running Windows XP, and instead of creating a new virtual hard drive, use the one created above.

This will give you a new virtual machine that will require you register within 30 days, which you can't do (since Windows XP isn't supported anymore). We'll fix that later.

Start up the virtual machine, deal with the craziness of mouse capturing (toggle the right control key to get the mouse back) until you install "Guest Additions":

In the "Devices" menu in the virtual machine's menu bar, select "Insert Guest Additions CD image" then run that installer in the virtual machine. Now the mouse should integrate smoothly.

In the VirtualBox Manager, in the Network tab, unclick "Cable Connected". You don't want this virus-friendly operating system talking to the internet!

To activate Windows XP, you can try the file named KEY in the exe file with the virtual hard drive, but the comments on lifehacker indicate it won't work. I got a new bios from vmlite, and install it as:

path\to\VirtualBoxFolder\VBoxManage.exe setextradata your-vm-name "VBoxInternal/Devices/pcbios/0/Config/BiosRom" "path\to\pcbios.bin"

And it all seems to work. I don't feel guilty about using a pirated operating system license, since I am running Windows 8 legally, and Microsoft won't sell me XP.

Installing CD's is a pain, and Riven wants to keep swapping them, but making them virtual images makes it much easier. Install ISORecorder (the Windows 7 version works with Windows 8) and now the contextual menu (right-click) for CD's includes a "Create Image from CD" option. Save with the iso extension, and VirtualBox will mount them just fine.

Unfortunately, I now do not have any time to play anything.

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